“Mad” Mike’s Steam-Powered Ballistic Experience

Apparently, a guy who claims to believe that the Earth is flat fired himself into the sky in a home-made rocket in order to prove something.

I don’t know what. It doesn’t really matter. But he seems satisfied with himself, and isn’t that what it’s all about? (Yes, actually, I do believe it is.)

Of the people currently claiming to believe in a Flat Earth, I suppose I have to grudgingly acknowledge that “Mad” Mike Hughes (his self-adopted epithet, by the way, not just my opinion) is the only one I’ve seen literally willing to die for whatever it is he thinks he’s trying to prove.

“Mad” Mike Hughes, gallant space buffoon. By the way, I checked so you didn’t have to risk it: ‘nanolubecorp.com’ produces vehicle and lawnmower lubricants.

In this case he didn’t, luckily — instead pointlessly reaching an altitude of about half a kilometre and then pointlessly drifting back to Earth by parachute for a safe, if pointless, landing.

But Hughes is a bit of a puzzle. Because I’ve always taken it as read that no-one really believes the world is flat. I mean, an increasing number of people say they do, and ever more loudly and abrasively — but they don’t, really, because it’s just not a credible belief to claim in the modern world.

I know there’s this myth that only when Columbus came along and Discovered America™ did we learn that Earth was round, but in reality that’d been known with some certainty since at least as far back as Aristotle. So basically what your supposed belief in a flat Earth is really saying is that you’ve managed to avoid any source of information more up-to-date than pre-Ancient Greece. It’s not a great look, to be honest.

In the case of “I’m Mad, Me” Mike, there’s also a rich irony in the fact that, as someone who’s claimed that the International Space Station is a NASA hoax because it couldn’t possibly be real, his recent steam-powered ballistic experience has, whether he admits it or not, provided him a glimpse into the wonderful world of rocketry: the exact engineering field that’s enabled that can’t-possibly-be-real hoax to be really designed, really built, and really assembled in orbit.

Perhaps I’m giving people more credit than some of them are due when I say I’m pretty sure no-one really thinks the world is flat. Well, maybe one or two of them — like Mike, presumably, unless he was just really confident in his parachutes. But it’s like, for years I’ve had an occasional ‘joke’ (definitional mileage may vary) that the USA isn’t real. It’s all a big hoax. And I base this on several compelling factors — at least as compelling as anything the flat-Earthers and the lunar hoax types have to offer:

  1. I’ve never been to America so I’ve never seen it for myself; and
  2. It’s technically possible that everyone I’ve met who say they’ve been to America is just in on the conspiracy.

And if it’s technically possible then it must be true. And by definition, anyone showing me evidence that America exists is just a conspirator, a shill trying to pull the wool over my eyes. Well, they won’t deceive me. I’m onto them. I’ll blow their conspiracy wide open by putting up a highly excitable website about it, USING LOTS of CAPS and TELLING everyone to WAKE UP SHEEPLE — and the conspirators will be so caught off guard by this that they won’t even think to murder me, or at least have my website taken down by their Lackies in Big Telecoms…

But I don’t really believe America isn’t real because there’s absolutely no actual reason think that, and there’s lots of evidence — some very positive, some utterly catastrophic — to accept its reality. Likewise, there’s no real reason to think the Earth is flat, that the Moon landings were faked, that 9/11 was an inside job, or that Princess Diana was assassinated. No outstanding question is answered, no problem is solved, no anomaly corrected, by preferring the conspiracy theory.

Everything we know about the Earth as a round body/oblate spheroid is consistent with what we see around us when we stand on it, move around it, and look at other things in the sky over our heads. There are no outstanding anomalies that could only be resolved by re-adopting the long-discredited Flat Earth model: in fact, as countless explanatory YouTube videos demonstrate, numerous anomalies would be created by doing so.

Moon-landing hoax advocates constantly search for ‘evidence’, in photos of the events, and from their own limited understanding of basic space and lunar science, of supposed anomalies that show the whole thing is impossible. Yet there is nothing in any Apollo photo, or in the record of how the landings were accomplished, that isn’t consistent with the facts — the, if you insist, “Official Story”. Landing on the Moon isn’t outlandish science. In fact it’s relatively straightforward: the challenge is in the engineering required to do it. But that challenge was met, and could be met again given the appropriate funding and the public will.

So what purpose does embracing conspiracy theory serve, if not answering unanswered questions?

Well, they’re about politics. Invariably. It’s not about really believing the Earth is flat, when there’s no plausible way a modern human being in a developed society could genuinely believe that. It’s about showcasing your distrust of, dislike of, disrespect for, “The Establishment”, whoever you conceive that to be. You propagate the lunar landing hoax conspiracy theory because you hate NASA because NASA are “The Government”, and are therefore Lying To You. You hate the United Nations because they’re the enforcement arm of the “International Banking Cabal” which is what you’ve learned to say when you don’t want to be banned from Twitter for openly saying you hate and distrust Jews and are generally an antisemitic twatbracket. Princess Diana was clearly murdered by the “Establishment Royals” not because you have any evidence to show that’s what happened, but because they’re a bunch of cold-hearted rich parasites who don’t pay any tax but she was The People’s Princess Of Are Hearts (© Daily Express 1997-2018).

So it’s not about actually believing a given thing — especially something ludicrous like the Flat Earth. It’s about being seen to support belief in it. It’s a tribal marker — kind of like a football scarf, or whatever this afternoon’s trending meme is on 4Chan. Display it, and you gain acceptance from a group that shares your overall political leaning.

That leaning can result in some pretty nebulous politics, mind: this isn’t about being able to say, “Ah, this person believes in 9/11 Was An Inside Job and therefore advocates this otherwise totally unrelated socio-economic policy.” As nice as that would be, because pigeonholing does make things a lot less complicated, right? And the path to the conspiracy theory can be tortuous: one person might claim belief in Flat Earth because they’re anti-science and desperately want one of the fundamental scientific truths to be proved wrong. Because if scientists are wrong about what shape the Earth is, then they can’t possibly be right about vaccines and all that money I paid to that alternative health guru wasn’t wasted after all.

Or, then again, as we’ve touched on the United Nations already, the Flat Earth advocate might claim the belief because the UN represents the Evil International Banking Cabal and is in turn (in an act of breathtaking mockery) represented by a flag quite literally showing the Flat Earth Truth they’re keeping from us WAKE UP SHEEPLE.


The Earth, dear readers, is not flat. Not even slightly. Not even if you claim it really really hard. I can’t speak for its curvature in spacetime, which is a whole different trough of squids and not something I’m taking my tiny brain anywhere near, but I very much doubt the average Flat Earther is actually making a scientific assertion based on general relativity. And even so, taking account of curved spacetime Earth  it’s probably not flat so much as it’s a sort of Möbius doughnut. But the point is that out here in macro-reality, regardless of whether you think Political Correctness Is Going Mad, or whether America Should Be Made Great Again, the Earth is not flat. It’s an oblate spheroid or, more colloquially, it’s bloody round.

And if you’re honest for a moment, you know you don’t believe it’s flat either.

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